American health officials on Sunday declared a publichealth emergency over increasing cases of swine flu, saying that they had confirmed 20 cases of the disease in the United States and expected to see more as investigators fan out to track down the path of the outbreak.
Although officials said most of the cases have been mild and urged Americans not to panic, the emergency declaration frees government resources to be used toward diagnosing or preventing additional cases, and releases money for more antiviral drugs.
“We are seeing more cases of swine flu,” said Richard Besser, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control, in a news conference in Washington. “We expect to see more cases of swine flu. As we continue to look for cases, I expect we’re going to find them.” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, speaking at the same news conference called the emergency declaration “standard operating procedure,” and said it should be considered a “declaration of emergency preparedness.”